Developing and testing tools for measuring and managing variability in rice

Deakin University (a body politic and corporate established pursuant to the Deakin University Act 2009 (Vic))

  • Project code: PRJ-009271

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Sunday, June 15, 2014

  • Project completion date: Sunday, September 30, 2018

  • National Priority: RIC-Agronomy and farming systems


As the last decade has proven, drought and climate change are a serious threat to the rice industry. Consequently, irrigation water availability and input costs are critical issues for Australian rice growers. Understanding spatial variation and developing prescription tools for maximising production is a priority. In order to do this we need to improve understanding of crop physiology and yield responses to management and environmental factors such as irrigation, bay water depth and temperature, soil type and nitrogen status. Recent advances in remote sensing have the potential to provide key water management information to rice growers which will allow them to improve their water use and productivity and benchmark their water use productivity against others in the industry within and across regions. This is a particularly powerful tool, allowing assessment of the relative contributions of management and environment on rice productivity on a farm and regional scale. The project aims to utilise the platform of existing remote sensing technologies in the form of irrigation management tool IrriSAT (CSIRO) to develop a prescription tool for rice growers that increases understanding of their crop water use and yield variability but also the factors driving spatial variability in yield across their farms. The project seeks to build on two main areas: (1) application of IrriSAT technology in determining variable crop water-use and farm-to-regional scale crop water use productivity benchmarking and (2) investigation of the environmental and management factors in driving yield variability and opportunities to manage variability in rice systems, using practical approaches.



Research Organisation

Deakin University (a body politic and corporate established pursuant to the Deakin University Act 2009 (Vic))

Objective Summary

The project will combine remote sensing techniques such as satellite imaging (e.g. NDVI images) with on-ground precision measurements (e.g. weather stations and infrared thermography) to assess factors driving spatial variability in yield. Factors to be assessed include soil variability, nitrogen, water depth and water temperature within and across bays. As part of this remote sensing measurements will be integrated with in-field continuous measurements (weather, water depth and temperature, etc.) alongside in-field crop physiology and phenology measurements throughout the season. Through IrriSat rice growers will be able to access a web based benchmarking system that can be used to assess and improve water-use productivity across farms and within regions. This will allow growers to develop responses to this variability and monitor effects of changes. Increasing grower understanding of factors driving spatial variability in yield on a bay, farm and regional scale should provide gains in efficiency across the industry. The project will engage with growers and agronomists in the Riverina region to integrate research output with grower feedback so tool development better matches farmer requirements and improves the end-point adoption.